[Updated on 19 September 2023]
In a significant development, the UK government has recently unveiled a series of impending changes that will impact individuals and organizations involved in immigration processes. These changes, set to take effect in autumn 2023 when Parliament reconvenes, encompass both the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fees and various application fees.
On 4 October, adjustments in immigration and nationality fees will be implemented to support essential services and allocate additional funds for public sector salary increases.
One of the most prominent aspects of these changes is the restructuring of visa fees across various immigration and nationality routes. These adjustments are poised to affect individuals seeking to join family, work, and study in the United Kingdom, and they come at a time when the nation is experiencing record-high migration numbers.
Specifically, the fee for most work and visit visas will increase by 15%. This increase is substantial, and it affects those seeking to work temporarily in the UK or visit for leisure or business purposes. Simultaneously, study visas, Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), settlement applications, citizenship applications, entry clearance, leave-to-remain visas, and priority visas will all experience a more significant surge, with fees rising by at least 20%. Among these, the fee increase for settlement applications is particularly noteworthy, as it grants individuals the right to reside in the UK permanently. Under the new fee structure, this privilege will come with a minimum cost of £2,885 per person, potentially imposing a substantial financial burden on families or individuals with multiple dependents.
In a bid to standardize and create fairness in the fee structure, the government is also equalizing the costs for students and those utilizing a priority service. This equalization means that individuals will pay the same fees, regardless of whether they apply from within or outside the UK. The intent here is to streamline the application process and ensure that the fee structure remains consistent and equitable.
Fee Simplifications and Abolitions
Amidst the fee increases, there are also several positive changes that are being introduced to mitigate the overall impact on applicants. The Home Office has announced the removal of certain fees and simplifications of certain processes:
- Biometric Enrolment Fee Abolished: The £19.20 fee for biometric enrolment is set to be abolished. Biometric enrolment is a crucial step in the application process, involving the collection of biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs.
- Transfer of Conditions Fee Abolished: The £161 fee charged for a Transfer of Conditions in-country is also being removed. This fee typically applies when an individual needs to make changes to their immigration status while in the UK. Its abolition will simplify the process and reduce the costs associated with updating immigration conditions.
- Amendment Fees Removed: Fees will no longer be levied for amending details on physical documents, such as name, sex marker, nationality, and photographs. This change ensures that individuals can rectify errors or update their information without incurring additional expenses.
- BRP Replacement Fees Abolished: Another noteworthy change is the abolition of fees for like-for-like replacement of a biometric residence permit (BRP) when the document has expired. Individuals with indefinite leave to remain will particularly benefit from this change, as they can obtain a new BRP without the financial burden of a replacement fee.
Immigration Health Surcharge Uplift
In addition to the fee changes, there will also be an increase in the rates of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), subject to final confirmation and legislative approval. The IHS is a fee that migrants and their family members in the UK must pay as part of their immigration application process. The purpose of this fee hike is to generate additional revenue for the government, with estimates exceeding one billion pounds, which will be used to fund pay raises for public sector workers, especially healthcare professionals.
Under the impending changes, the primary rate of the IHS will rise significantly from £624 to £1,035 per year for workers and family members staying in the UK for a period of six months or more. This substantial increase applies to both migrants and British citizens who are sponsoring their family members. Similarly, students, children, and youth mobility visa holders will experience a notable fee increase, with their IHS rate going up from £470 to £776 per year.
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